Vote for your favorite STAR to win the People's Choice Award!
Voting will end at noon on May 10, 2019.
The winner will be awarded the trophy the next evening at the event!
With an equal passion for music and competition, Cliff looks to channel the internal fire that is normally caged during office hours.
Cliff Allen has been a member of the St. Joseph community for nearly 20 years. Yet despite being a small town boy, he has a variety of interests and desires that lead him to make new connections around the world! When he’s not working as a recruiter for Spectrum Health Lakeland, Cliff looks to learn songs on his saxophone, take trips to visit friends made during his schooling at the University of Chicago and Andrews University, play basketball to stay in shape, and generate new connections by going on Free Intelligent Conversation outings. Through this process of dancing with the stars, Cliff hopes to make new connections, while also bringing awareness to others about the importance of music to any community.
"When I was younger I used to hate most forms of music except for certain more classical or peaceful musical arrangements. It was only after joining band in elementary school and high school that my appreciation for music truly developed. Since then, I have learned, listened to and explored a myriad of different genres and enjoyed many public musical performances. I think that music is the key to unlocking a person’s emotions as well as their introspective capabilities. Thus having a group like the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra is very important because it both exposes people to a beautiful genre of music that they may be unaware of and it provides our community with the opportunity to experience the temporary transcendence that occurs when exposed to expert level performances."
Hospitality manager Samer Badreddine grew up in Lebanon and lived in Africa for seven and a half years before coming to the United States. A favorite pastime was going out dancing in the night clubs, and it was there that he developed his smooth moves. He studied swing dancing for a time but didn’t care for it as there was “too much kicking” involved. Samer prefers the salsa which he believes is a perfect match for his “saucy” personality.
Samer served as the Maître d’ at the Bistro on the Boulevard for nine years before recently moving on in order to pursue new ventures in the industry. Hobbies include all things sports, but he especially enjoys swimming, soccer, and beach volleyball.
Samer is excited to be a part of DWSS 6 to help raise funds for a worthwhile organization. He considers it important to support the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra because “it allows others to experience the gift and art of different performances.”
Jayme Cousins is co-owner of the Mason Jar Café in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She and husband, Abel Abarca, have owned the business for five years and are thrilled to celebrate this milestone. Jayme has a strong passion for learning how food can be medicine for our bodies and enjoys providing tantalizing and therapeutic meals at her restaurant.
A graduate of Indiana University, Jayme received her degree in General Studies with a concentration in graphic design. With such a diverse portfolio, is it any wonder that she also considers herself a “dancer at heart?”
Jayme has always believed that the arts are good for the mind and soul. Having an outlet not only for the artist but the audience member is important for the community. Such programs help to build community while allowing people to have an escape from their everyday lives.
Dr. Sandra Martin
This sassy mom of 2 doesn't dance for just any reason, but when there is a chance to compete while raising money for a good cause along, with some liquid courage, you can bet she will have her game face on.
She is a Daughter of God, a wife, a chiropractor and a mom of 2 beautiful daughters. Dr. Sandy loves creating and spreading hope in her community. Right after graduating chiropractic college in South Carolina in 2013, Dr. Sandy opened All Star Family Chiropractic in downtown Benton Harbor. In November 2018 she acquired Sharkey Chiroparctic and moved her office to S. Cleveland Rd (the old Secretary of State building). She is the current President of Exchange Club of SWMI. In her spare time you will find Dr. Sandy kayaking, having dance parties with her daughters, listening to Audible and karaokeing in the car. This SWMI native is always eager to support a good cause and step up where work is needed.
"Music is a universal language, a way to tell a story and express feeling. This is exactly what the Symphony provides for SWMI. They create experiences that encompass culture, allowing diversity, interpretation, sophistication, and imagination to run wild. Supporting the symphony and recognizing its significance in the community is what bright and brilliant people do."
A dedicated procrastinator, Mike decided to wait until very late in his 50’s to take up dancing. His real passion is for improvisational comedy, which could come in very handy as his choreographed routine finds its way into previously unexplored terrain.
Mike Nadolski is Executive Director of The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College (hey, that’s right here!), Director of The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series and owner of the Citadel Dance Center building with understanding and devoted wife, Sarah. Mike’s main responsibility is tending to the five children in his blended family: Josh, Jillian, Anthony, Vince and Laura. Mike blends a business and arts management background and more than 40 years of improvisational theater experience with a passion for creating collaborative arts opportunities in southwest Michigan. He studied improv theatre with The Players Workshop of Second City Theatre in Chicago and has produced, directed and performed with The Practical Theatre Co. in Chicago, Bridges Theatre and Workshop in Benton Harbor, Michigan and other improv troupes throughout the Midwest and even Atlanta, GA. He is a longtime member of the board of directors of the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council.
"SMSO brings a vast array of riches to the arts fabric of our community. There is nothing quite like a full orchestra lending its inimitable sound to a performance – or filling The Mendel Center with its own orchestrations. We are extremely fortunate to have such a high caliber orchestra in our region. The easiest way to feel the true value of anything is to imagine it gone. The SMSO is truly worthy of continued support."
Lars & Liz Petzke
Liz and Lars are known for being the first and last ones on the dance floor. So much so that they were awarded the "Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Award" at a RE/MAX of Michigan Conference.
Lars was born and raised in St. Joseph, and met Liz, a Kalamazoo native, in East Lansing while pursuing post-graduate studies at MSU. They moved to St. Joseph in early 2006 when they got married. Lars pursued a career in real estate while Liz pursued a career in mortgage lending. In 2013, Lars opened a RE/MAX franchise in St. Joseph. In 2015, after being recruited by Lars for 2 years, Liz joined him in the family real estate business.
The couple resides in downtown St. Joseph in a home built by Lars' great-grandfather in 1912. They have 2 boys; Carter, age 12, Wyatt, age 7, and a little girl; Lilliana, age 1.
"The SMSO is an organization that brings a wide range of music to our local community. Music helps to foster education and brings our community together in a shared love for it. It goes back to SMSO's Vision Statement: "A destination orchestra dedicated to harnessing live music’s transformational power to foster creativity, promote joy and unite our community." The do just that for the twin cities."
Tara took ballet when she was little but didn’t want to perform on a stage, so she ultimately quit—she’s not going to quit this time, though. Tara is trading her running shoes for dancing shoes, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to slow down. She promises to push the pace and maintain her endurance through every twirl.
Tara Sabo is the Fitness Director at South Shore Health and Racquet Club where she is also a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. She is a managing partner at Connected Soles, too. Through the gym and the running store, Tara is able to share her passion for health and fitness with others, ultimately helping them meet and exceed their goals. When she’s not working, she’s probably running…toward the finish line at this year’s Chicago Marathon or after her two children, Hannah (7) and Evan (4).
"Music is a universal language. It brings people together, providing joy and entertainment in a somewhat challenging and often divided world. The Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra is a huge part of this community and, as such, it has the ability to unify us through the language of its sound and song. That is definitely something worth supporting."